Castle Point Conservatives have issued this statement:
CASTLE POINT GREEN BELT CAN BE SAVED – WE HAVE IT IN WRITING!
Planning Minister Brandon Lewis has confirmed that green belt is a legitimate constraint for the number of homes the council can plan for in their new local plan.
This confirmation came in a letter to Castle Point Council Leader, Cllr Colin Riley, following a meeting of leading officers and Conservative councillors held at Westminster arranged by local Conservative MP Rebecca Harris.
Mr Lewis wrote “The Government’s Manifesto commitment to protecting green belt, sets out the great importance of the green belt and the green belt boundaries which can only be revised through the local plan process.The letter made it clear, the Minister said during his statement in parliament: that development need, does not automatically equal supply and it is entirely legitimate for Castle Point to consider the level of development to be accommodated in a Green Belt area, based on evidence of constraints to all development including Green Belt.
Commenting on the letter Cllr Riley said “This confirmation is exactly what was needed, with this extra confidence I intend to submit the letter to our Task & Finish Group as important evidence, and will push even harder to get an acceptable plan for our Borough that takes full account of resident’s interests.”
Benfleet Conservative Councillor, Cllr Skipp, whose Appleton Ward borders the Jotman’s Green Belt site said “I could not be more pleased with the letter from the Minister. I cannot speak for the Canvey Island Independent Party or UKIP but I hope the whole council will now unite to thoroughly explore protecting the Green Belt sites that residents cherish, across Benfleet, Hadleigh, Thundersley and Canvey Island”.
Cllr Cross, Conservative member for St Mary’s Ward said:
“I hope the confirmation can be used to support the council’s case in the upcoming appeals by developers on Green Belt applications. This is a very powerful letter and needs to be included fully”
It’s a shame that councillor Skipp appears to have included Canvey as an after thought, but at least we are included!
Now there can be no Complaints or hand wringing and excuses.
The advice is clear.
Or is it? The response I am led to believe is dated mid April, 4 months for the cabinet to mull over and digest appears extensive. I also gather that the issue of gardens outside of an urban area (green field) could be treated as brownfield. Leading to areas I assume such as the H18 and Felstead Road as being “eligible” for development. Some serious Plan making soul searching is required.
Why, according to the wording of the conservative statement, was a letter of confirmation still required if officers were in attendance with our MP and selected councillors? Did the officers not come away with the same interpretation as councillors? Did some councillors disagree with other councillors interpretation?
With the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment indicating the Castle Point housing supply to the end of the Plan period being in the region of 6,000 homes (I am assuming this will only include 2-300 at the Blinking Owl site), it leads to wonder how the local authority will apply the development constraints defence.
Up until now the obsession has been over Green Belt. Quite wrongly Flood Risk has featured a distant second.
With regard Green Belt, for the boundary to be altered, the criteria must be CPBC will defend at all cost an area that fulfils one of the Green Belt functions.
Interestingly all current Green Belt sites must achieve this otherwise they would not have warranted inclusion in the Green Belt in the first place.
Then the decision should be made, if previously developed Green Belt is to be reviewed, what is the criteria? How much harm, otherwise how strategically placed is the area if release from the GB is warranted.
Proposed Green Belt housing sites IN the Castle Point daft New Local Plan on Canvey Island are also in a Flood Zone!
It will be interesting to hear an Inspector’s views when considering the local authorities evidence to support this.
There is a Local Plan Task and Finish group meeting this Monday, let’s see what SOS message rings out!